NHL News and Rumours: Avalanche coaching search, Vegas name

Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic comments on the departure of head coach Patrick Roy and what’s next for the coach.

The Avalanche will begin their search for a new coach this weekend, a pair of former Panthers are ready to move on, and that time Gretzky considered becoming a Red Wing.

Avalanche need a coach

Patrick Roy dropped a bomb on the hockey world Thursday when he announced his resignation from his post as head coach and vice president of hockey operations with the Colorado Avalanche.

It’s put the Avalanche in a difficult position with no coach in place and training camp just over a month away. Vice president of hockey operations and general manager Joe Sakic will gather his staff over the weekend to begin the process of replacing Roy.

Via Terry Frei at the Denver Post:

“Myself and my staff are going to get together (Saturday) and look at candidates, and go ahead and look for the right guy to take us to the next level,” Sakic said.

“We’re going to put a group of candidates together and then start the interview process,” he added. “As you can probably all understand, this caught us all off guard. There’s no timetable. Obviously, we’d like to have it done before training camp. But we want to interview quite a few people and see who we all feel is the best fit.”

Frei noted former Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley as a potential replacement. Hartley helped guide the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup championship in 2001.

A few more names out there to consider include Dave Cameron, Kevin Dineen, Dallas Eakins, Sheldon Keefe, and Ron Wilson. If Sakic and Co. are looking for someone who can replicate Roy’s intensity and bring a similar old-school approach, there’s always Mike Keenan…consider that a long shot.

Las Vegas out on ‘Hawks’ names?

The yet to be named Las Vegas hockey team confirmed several potential names Thursday with the Desert Hawks, Red Hawks, and Nighthawks hitting the social media circuit to decidedly negative reviews.

Chris Creamer of Sportslogos.net has since indicated that Bill Foley’s group may have changed course on any potential ‘Hawks’ name.

The saga continues…

Gudbranson, Kulikov ready for life after Florida

The Florida Panthers were one of the busiest teams this off-season, re-tooling their blue line with the additions of Jason Demers, Mark Pysyk, and Keith Yandle.

Pysyk arrived via trade from the Buffalo Sabres, with Dmitry Kulikov going the other way. The club also dealt defenceman Erik Gudbranson to the Vancouver Canucks for Jared McCann, with picks exchanged as well.

Both Kulikov and Gudbranson are set for the next chapter of their NHL careers, via George Richards at the Miami Herald.

“I’m excited to change the scenery a little bit, go on to a new team,” Kulikov said. “It felt right for some reason. After being here so many years … There were times I wanted Florida to trade me, then we drafted some good players and the team started to turn around and it was fun, so, at that point, I wanted to stay. But when the trade came, it felt like a good opportunity for me to step up my game.”

Gudbranson is keen to step into a traditional hockey hotbed, but he’s happy to continue watching the game grow in Florida.

“There’s a buzz around hockey here now and I’d like to think that, as part of the Panthers the past few years, we created it,’’ Gudbranson said. “It’s sort of sad to leave, but hopefully this thing continues to grow and hockey becomes the prominent sport down here.”

When Gretzky almost became a Red Wing

Aug. 9, 1988 was a day that changed hockey forever. It was the day the Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings.

While Gretzky would never win another Stanley Cup, his impact on the growth of hockey in the United States was immeasurable. Imagine how different things could have been if “The Great One” landed in Michigan rather than Southern California.

Gretzky on the 11th hour decision to depart for Los Angeles over Detroit, via Brendan Savage at MLive.com:

“I grew up a Gordie Howe fan and loved Gordie Howe and the Red Wings,” Gretzky told NHL Network. “I really felt 24 hours beforehand that I was going to end up a Detroit Red Wing. Both Janet (Jones, Gretzky’s wife) and I thought that was the perfect place to go because A, it was a great hockey city, B, because of Gordie and everything that goes with that.

“And it was really my dad that stepped in and said, ‘You know, there’s only one Gordie Howe. Detroit’s Detroit. They’ve done everything. You should go to L.A. and put a new mark on life down there, and do something so unique and so different.’ And he was the one that stepped in and said, ‘You should go play in Los Angeles.’

“I remember sitting with Janet and I was like, ‘Okay. That’s where we’re gonna go.'”

Then Oilers owner Peter Pocklington never contacted the Red Wings, but a Gretzky-Steve Yzerman 1-2 punch down the middle is something we can all dream about.

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